Sunday, December 29, 2013

Simplify Sunday: Sweaters

I did another mini Simplify Project this week. This time I decided to tackle my sweater shelf.  It has been overflowing for months and I seriously forgot about some of the sweaters that were at the bottom of the piles.  This first photo is of the shelf when I was about to start laundry, with a large portion of the sweaters already in the laundry hamper.

As you can see, even without the third that is hanging out in the hamper, my shelf is totally full. So, since I obviously wear the ones that were in the hamper, I started in on the remaining sweaters and sorted them into one of four categories:

1. Wear a lot (keep)
2. Doesn't fit (donate)
3. Don't really like (donate)
4. Totally forgot I had, but still kind of like (keep, at least for now)

The fourth category was not one that I had originally planned on having, but I found a couple sweaters that had managed to remain hidden away for far too long. I wasn't sure if the reason that I hadn't worn them in a long time was because I just don't like them, or because I just couldn't see them, so I have put them on probation - if I wear them in the next three months, they can stay.

Left - sweaters I am donating, Right - sweaters on probation

I didn't get rid of many sweaters this time around, I tend to wear sweaters often, so I actually do use most of the ones I own. I do plan on being a little more conscious of my sweaters though, it's so easy to forget that I dislike something about a sweater when I am no longer wearing it.

Once I had finished laundry I organized my remaining sweaters on the shelf. There are still a lot, but at least it's a bit more tidy!

Have you completed any mini organization projects lately? What do you want to simplify? I'd love to hear!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

What's in My Carry-On Bag: Ottawa December 2013

I am headed back to Ottawa! Actually, as I type this I am in the airport after having been on my 6 am flight, sitting on the plane for nearly two hours, and being asked to de-plane. In about 20 minutes I would have been arriving in Toronto and waiting to make my connecting flight to my final destination of Ottawa. Saskatchewan winters, I tell you.

I am headed to Ottawa for the annual conference that Catholic Christian Outreach (CCO) puts on over New Years, Rise Up, and it starts tonight at 7 pm. Originally I was slated to arrive around 2:30 in the afternoon, now I'm not sure I'll even get there today.

So, while I wait I figured I would share what I have in my carry-on bag.  I took these photos before I packed it up this morning (at 4 am!), so don't worry, I'm not that crazy girl in the corner of the airport taking photos of the entire contents of her bag. Although, I wouldn't judge if I encountered someone doing just that.

I'm carrying my Longchamp Le Pliage Large Tote with me today, just like I mentioned in my Carry-on Essentials post.

I am continually surprised by the amount of stuff this bag can hold!  This is what I have packed today:

Eagle Creek Pack-it Cube filled with chargers and cords; iPod touch; headphones; macbook

Pens; iPad Mini; Current read; Journal; Small Moleskine

Makeup bag (Origins gift set); liquids and aerosols; hairbrush

That's all! I actually had to pack a second carry-on last minute when my suitcase was overweight right before I left. I did not overpack, but I have my cousins Christmas gift coming with me for the second part of my trip when I leave Ottawa and it adds a lot of weight.  Thankfully you are allowed a personal item AND a carry-on. 

Have you done any traveling lately? What did you bring in your carry-on?

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Simplify Sunday: Purses

I have been in this place lately where I really feel the need to simplify. Simplify my surroundings, simplify my schedule, simplify my stuff - just simplify.

The thought of simplifying everything that I want and feel I need to simplify leaves me feeling extremely overwhelmed, so I decided I would tackle things one little piece at a time. Some of them I know will still be larger projects, but others just sort of happen.

That's what happened with this Simplify Project. I was actually tidying up the house to get ready for a party I was hosting and ended up being distracted by my completely unorganized shelves that hold my purses, wallets, clutches, and such.  I was about to start re-organizing them when I realized that I hardly use anything on one of the shelves and the other shelf housed pieces that I used to use on a regular basis, but that my current style just doesn't really have room for anymore. I knew I needed to simplify.

So, aside from my bags that I use on a seriously constant basis and that don't even live on my shelves, I looked at each piece and asked myself a few questions to help with my decision making:

1. Do I like this?
2. When did I last use this?
3. Does this fit my current style?
4. Is this ruined or worn out in any way?
5. Do I have anything super similar to this that I use more?

I didn't ask myself "Do I need this?" because, really, I don't need any of these things. So that would just cause more of a sense of feeling overwhelmed.  I tried my best to remain objective and be completely honest with myself.  This was a nice start to my Simplify Project because I really am not that much of a purse girl, so I don't have as strong of an attachment to these pieces as I know I do to other things. Baby steps.

As I mentioned, I have some bags that I use at least once a week, but most of them are more than 3 days a week.  These are my purse, my dance bag, my Longchamp Le Pliage Large Tote, and what used to be my school bag, but now serves as the the tote I use when I need to take my laptop with me - usually if I'm heading to a coffee shop to write.

My Everyday Bags

This Simplify Project took me less than ten minutes to complete, but I am really happy with what I decided to keep and what I decided to get rid of.  My shelves are much more organized now and this is one less thing that adds to that overwhelming feeling for me.

I ended up choosing to get rid of four purses, two wallets, and one clutch.  It doesn't seem like that much, but considering my small(ish) collection of purses it was a large chunk for me.

What is one area of your life that you feel you need to simplify? Do you plan on completing your own Simplify Project? Be sure to share it with me if you do!

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Last Ballet Exam

My first-year pointe students from last year

On Wednesday I danced my last Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) Graded Ballet Examination.  It was the Grade 7 examination, but RAD actually goes until Grade 8.  I finished Grade 6 and all the prior examinations by the time I graduated high school. Then, in my first year of university, I was living in Muenster so I took some classes at a studio in Humboldt, SK. Since I didn't have a lot of time to devote to dance, the studio owner (also my instructor) recommended taking Grade 8 instead of Grade 7 because there was less content to learn. It wasn't necessarily easier, but it is definitely structured differently.

So, what made me decide to take my final examination five years later? Well, I was taking some classes this summer from one of my favourite local choreographers and the topic of ballet exams came up so I mentioned I still needed to finish my Grade 7 examination. Long story short, we decided to start this fall and four other ladies joined in!

I have never prepared less for an examination.  I wish I had more time to devote to practicing, but we started learning the syllabus mid-September and I danced the examination on December 4, having missed many of the October practices while traveling or attending to other, previously arranged, commitments. Some of the other ladies were able to get together other times between practices, but I was either at work, French class, volunteering, traveling, or teaching my own students.

Being less prepared than I am used to made me extra nervous for this exam.  It was in a studio that I have only ever danced the RAD Vocational examinations in (which brings about memories of extremely-heightened nerves) with the pianist that I had been fortunate to have play the examination that I danced in Humboldt. She is from the Humboldt area, so I actually got to practice my Grade 8 exam with a live piano more than I was used to while dancing in Saskatoon throughout my previous grades, but I went into my piano rehearsal not knowing it was her playing for us - it was a shock but a good one. This exam was such a mix of old and new that the whole experience was different from any other dance memory I have.

I made some mistakes, some pretty silly ones actually, but the exam went really well.  There were two other ladies dancing with me, so many of the exercises were done 2 people then 1 person, with the examiner rotating through who danced alone.  It was nice to have a moment to breathe and let my aching feet relax (only a little!).

Have you ever taken a dance exam? I would love to hear about your experiences!
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